Harlem welcomes Vivrant Beauty to the neighborhood

Demetria Irwin | 8/4/2016, 1:47 p.m.
Elegant. Fresh. Open. Welcoming. Those are words to describe the space where Vivrant Beauty in Harlem resides.

Elegant. Fresh. Open. Welcoming. Those are words to describe the space where Vivrant Beauty in Harlem resides. The store, located on 121st Street just east of St. Nicholas, contains hair skin, and make-up products specifically targeted to women of color.

Owner Desiree Verdejo, a Harlem native, carefully curates the products offered at Vivrant Beauty, which amazingly, is the only store in Harlem that offers a comprehensive selection of hair and beauty products for women of warmer hues and kinkier hair. The range of colors, textures and smells of the lipsticks, hair conditioners and facial products offered in the store attests to the wide diversity of needs and tastes within the women-of-color demographic.

“When I opened in the summer of 2015, I really just wanted to offer something of substance to the community,” said Verdejo, who worked for seven years as an attorney in corporate finance before she switched careers and became a beauty entrepreneur. “Most of our products come from women, people of color and local companies, and we offer a range of price points to accommodate the diverse demographics of the area. I was actually shocked that something like this didn’t already exist.”

One thing that Verdejo was pleasantly surprised about was the enthusiastic community support. “Coming from a law background that is a bit more cutthroat, I was very happy to feel so welcomed here,” she said. “We’ve connected with hair salons and the like around here, but also just other business owners in the area. They’ve come to me with advice and clued me in on certain things. There’s a camaraderie. The people at Serengeti Teas and Spices, for example, just up the way are amazing! If we ever open up another store somewhere, we need them nearby.”

As for future growth, Verdejo is open to possibly setting up shop in other boroughs and cities, but for now, she would like to focus on growing Vivrant Beauty’s web presence. “I definitely want to grow our online base and continue to use social media as a way of creating a sense of community in addition to the physical community we are cultivating,” said Verdejo.

Her company’s team members all happen to be women, even the high school intern, who comes from a local school that offers a program for students to get hands-on experience.

As far as the name, 33-year-old Verdejo was inspired by pop culture and sentiment. “Too often in public dialogue, anything that has to do with Black women is mired in something heavy and negative,”she said. “With Vivrant Beauty I wanted to offer something weightless, happy, beautiful and welcoming. This is a safe space for all of us. And for people in my age range, we think of the Q-Tip song and that feel-good vibe. I wanted to create that.”

Vivrant Beauty is open Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, visit www.vivrantbeauty.com.